Cozumel’s Marine Park officials are keeping a close eye on yet another invasive species on the island that is threatening indigenous flora and fauna: the sea pine tree. The Casuarina ( latin name:equisetifolia) is a invasive tree that originates from Australia and New Guinea, and, according to reports from Abelardo Brito, head of the Department Against Invasive Species within the Parque Marino Nacional “Arrecifes Cozumel,” it is as aggressively invasive to the protected northern beaches as the lionfish is to the Marine Park .
The Casuarina, a very common looking pine tree can be found on many of the island’s northern shoreline beaches. The inoffensive looking pine competes for space with many of the native plants and trees that do not grow as quickly, such as the mangroves, which are an important and protected eco-system. The trees also produce a dense root system, that doesn’t allow turtles to dig their nests on beaches, as they have done for many years. Lastly, since it’s not indigenous, the Sea Pine also does not serve as a refuge or a food source for any of the island’s wildlife.
In fact, it’s hypothesized that the Sea Pine arrived on the island as part of the meteorological phenomenon that made up Hurricane Wilma. As a result, the Department against Invasive Species is actually recommending eradicating the trees from the island, and is actively seeking funding and support to remove the invasive Casuarina. For more information, check out the PNAC webpage.
This story originally appeared in the weekly Cozumel 4 You NEWS – the island’s number one source of positive information about our island! Be sure and subscribe to the weekly NEWS to find out all the island events!…